Vivo IPL 2021: Mumbai Indians (MI) all-rounder Hardik Pandya may return against RCB: Zaheer Khan

RCB vs MI: Star Mumbai Indians (MI) all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who missed out on the first two opening matches of IPL 2021 phase 2 is very likely to make his return to the cricket field in tomorrow’s match against RCB believes Zaheer Khan, Director of Cricket Operations Mumbai Indians.

The title-holders didn’t have the best of the starts in the second leg of IPL 2021 as they lost two matches on the trot. The first loss came against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) while Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) sealed the show the other night to push Mumbai Indian further back in the points table.

Rohit Sharma and co missed the services of Hardik Pandya at the backend where quick runs were required. In spite of getting a solid start from opener Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock, the defending champions failed to post a daunting total and lost the match against KKR.

However, Zaheer Khan is optimistic about Hardik Pandya’s return in the Mumbai first XI in the match against RCB on Sunday.

“Well, we have a practice session today lined up, so after we finish the press conference we are going to go there and will take an informed call on that. He (Hardik) has started practicing, that’s what I can share with you guys right now.

So, we are hopeful that he (Hardik) will be fit and available. That’s what we are hoping,” the former India pacer said at the pre-match conference.

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MI head coach Mahela Jayawardene on the opening day of the Vivo IPL 2021 phase 2 reasoned Hardik’s exclusion from the team was due to a slight niggle.

Zaheer said that all the teams in the IPL prefer smart preparations and knows how to stay on top of the opposite team.

“As you know, IPL is a very highly competitive tournament, so teams are always trying to have a one up on each other and they are getting smart in their preparation and these days every team is analysing every other team. So we have to stay at the top.

“The focus has always been on us, this team has been so successful because we have been focusing on our processes, our strengths and our players who are taking the field. And these are the players who have got us the championship, so we have that kind of approach and we have had quite a lot of good conversations around those things,” he said.

The second half of the IPL 2021 is all about pressure, the intensity of matches is high and MI knows how to bring the best in stressful situations, added Zaheer Khan.

The middle-order crisis of MI is not a concern for the franchise. Khan stressed that it is always about finding the right rhythm and once players get that they become unstoppable.

“But I don’t see it (the middle-order form) as a concern. It is just about finding that rhythm. You have seen in this format and this tournament particularly that once you get on a roll, you can win a couple of games together,” he said.

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